Luc Besson Admits He Originally Wanted to Create 'Valerian', Not 'The Fifth Element'

Monday, 19 June 2017 - 1:07PM
Comic Book Movies
Valerian
Monday, 19 June 2017 - 1:07PM
Luc Besson Admits He Originally Wanted to Create 'Valerian', Not 'The Fifth Element'
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Image credit: STX Entertainment
From everything we've seen thus far, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets appears to be trading high on its Fifth Element connections. From posters to trailers, the movie's promotional materials are all doing their best to point out that director Luc Besson is returning to outlandish, colorful sci-fi (as opposed to whatever Lucy was) for the first time since Bruce Willis tried his hand at a space opera.

Apparently, though, we've all been looking at it wrong. Valerian isn't Besson's attempt to pay tribute to The Fifth Element. He's trying to eclipse it.



In a new featurette on the development of the upcoming movie, Besson explains how he's been obsessed with the graphic novel Valerian and Laureline since his teenage years, going so far as to call Laureline his "first love". When making The Fifth Element, Besson actually wanted to make an adaptation of Valerian, but felt the technology wasn't quite there.

Now, apparently, James Cameron's Avatar has changed all that, and Besson can make his passion project—which also happens to be one of the most expensive French movies ever made.

It's hard to argue with the results. From what's on display in the featurette, and from what we've seen in previous trailers, this movie seems to take the Avatar aesthetic and blow it out of the water. It's clear that this isn't just some cynical cash-grab; Besson has slaved over this for years.

What's particularly noteworthy in the featurette is the number of bizarre alien designs that have been created for this movie, many of which haven't been seen before. Concept art shows how background characters from the Valerian comic have been taken, experimented with, and fleshed out into believable creatures that fit within the movie.

Of course, as much as this may be expanding upon The Fifth Element, it's clear that Besson is leaning very heavily in the same direction again. You can't have a glitzy Broadway show in the middle of an alien world without getting Chris Rock vibes, and there seems to be a lot of personality and Fifth Element-style humor to a lot of the aliens in the footage that's shown here.

This movie is certainly going to please fans of Besson's earlier space opera. What's more, though, it seems that Besson has really poured his heart and soul into this film, and in an industry where comic book movies are generally created from a more cynical, cookie-cutter formula, it's nice to see something this big that's being made simply to appeal to the director's own sense of child-like joy.

Valerian hits US theaters on July 21st, 2017.
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